A new statewide, interagency task force focused on combatting unemployment insurance (UI) benefit fraud in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is supporting investigating agencies and encouraging citizens to report suspected UI fraud.
The Georgia Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force’s mission is to combat fraud schemes targeting the UI benefits program, which is funded by both the federal and the state governments and is administered by the Georgia Department of Labor. In response to the devastating negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed into law in March 2020. Among many benefits for citizens and businesses, the CARES Act includes a provision of temporary benefits for individuals who have exhausted their entitlement to regular unemployment compensation, as well as coverage for individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment compensation, are self-employed or have limited recent work history.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, fraudsters have perpetrated numerous lucrative UI fraud schemes at a significant rate. State and local law enforcement agencies are at the forefront in uncovering these schemes. The Georgia UI Fraud Task Force supports these agencies by providing assistance with evidence collection, offering guidance investigating complex fraud schemes, and referring cases for federal prosecution, among other needs. Representatives from agencies including the Georgia Department of Labor, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Georgia’s Office of the Attorney General, FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), IRS-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and all three of Georgia’s U.S. Attorney’s Offices serve on Georgia’s UI Fraud Task Force.
Georgians are encouraged to be vigilant, as fraudsters often make use of unsuspecting victims’ bank accounts and logins to funnel illegally obtained unemployment payments. The Georgia UI Fraud Task Force advises the public to exercise caution when receiving emails promising “easy money” or unsolicited online requests to open personal bank accounts and share those account numbers online. Elders and prior victims of identity theft or email compromise are especially vulnerable targets of these schemes.
People can report UI abuse with the Georgia Department of Labor by visiting https://www.dol.state.ga.us/public/uiben/ fraud/reportType. Anyone with information about allegations of attempted